Habits and Time Management

Habits and time management

Skills and tasks

A gamification model, usable in more than one type of task, must admit the possibility of pre-validating skills necessary to accomplish a new task. If you want to learn how to play the guitar, but have already mastered bass guitar, you already possess some skills necessary to play guitar. You acquired them while you were learning to play the bass guitar.

So it doesn’t make sense for the player to re-learn skills that he already has.

This way it is easy to understand that if one gamified environment requires 2 months to master, and another one requires 3 months, if both games share some of the skills necessary to complete them, you will not need 5 months to learn both. You will need considerably less time, depending on how many skills are shared in both games.

When creating a gamification model, this aspect should not be ignored because it’s a relevant part on its efficiency.

Time, production and pleasure

An essential factor – if not the essential – when you want to learn a new set of skills or you want to accomplish a task, is time. To get it, we must squeeze our schedule in a way that is possible to free up enough space to dedicate to that process.

Time management is a mental process based on the perceived importance or relevance of the task to the person, and those factors have different backgrounds.

Or, like this Wikipedia article puts it:

“Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.”

There are a lot of factors that influence the relevance of a specific task:
• You might feel the need to do it because it is your job;
• You want to help out someone;
• You want to feel good;
• Well, the list goes on!

In their daily life, different people have a different span of time that could be called production time and is normally related to work, chores and other responsibilities. This production time is normally seen as rival to leisure time. However, people have a limit to how much time they can dedicate to tasks that don’t pleasure them in some way.

On a side note, it would be easy to think that a person can’t live without leisure time, but can live without production time. Actually, as human beings, we need to find meaning in everything we do, and because of that we tend to have the need to create meaningful things even if not asked to do so.

If we create meaningful things in our leisure time, we are actually producing something, aren’t we?

What we mean to say is that production and leisure time are not mutual exclusives. You can have fun while you produce something and you can produce something while having fun.

People who love what they do, tend to work more, just because there’s that mix of production and pleasure. We all need our daily dose of dopamine and we tend to seek it even if we don’t plan on it. If you think about it, you have those little pleasures that you’ve made a habit of, and can’t go on without them.

Gamification can help mix a bit of both and that can be a positive thing because it introduces pleasure while keeping you productive. But if you already have read this article you already know that!

Now, let’s talk about another thing that can make tasks a little bit easier.

The Creation of a Habit

What is a habit? According to Encyclopædia Britannica:

“Habit, in psychology, any regularly repeated behavior that requires little or no thought and is learned rather than innate. (..) Habits, as discussed by William James in his Principles of Psychology, are useful as the means for conserving higher mental processes for more demanding tasks, but they promote behavioral inflexibility.”

The creation of a habit can make the execution of some tasks less daunting, since it creates an almost automatic response from the body, and therefore there’s not as much effort and stress implied in the execution of said task.

For example, to be healthier you decide you must start doing some jogging every morning before you go to work. At first, you may lack the motivation, and it’s hard for you to get up from bed every morning to jog.

At the back of your mind, you have that little voice which keeps telling you to go back to bed. You think about giving up a couple of times, but since you are strong willed you persevere. After a while, you make a habit of it.

From then on you don’t even think much about it anymore, you just grab your running shoes and go. That’s the fantastic thing in creating good habits.

Gamification can be of great help in the process of creating a habit. That difficult initial phase, where you need extra motivation to continue, might be facilitated with a game that transforms your mindset from “I have to do this” to “Game on!”

It can also help in the reverse process – the elimination of a habit. Smoking is a bad habit! If a person decides to give up on that habit, a game can help in gradually reduce the number of cigarettes smoked daily, until the habit is gone.

So, gamification is not only a good way to improve intrinsic motivation, but it can also help in the automation of certain tasks.

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